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Medial Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Internally Driven Strategy Shifts


Schuck, Nicolas W; Gaschler, Robert; Wenke, Dorit; Heinzle, Jakob; Frensch, Peter A; Haynes, John-Dylan; Reverberi, Carlo (2015). Medial Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Internally Driven Strategy Shifts. Neuron, 86(1):331-340.

Abstract

Many daily behaviors require us to actively focus on the current task and ignore all other distractions. Yet, ignoring everything else might hinder the ability to discover new ways to achieve the same goal. Here, we studied the neural mechanisms that support the spontaneous change to better strategies while an established strategy is executed. Multivariate neuroimaging analyses showed that before the spontaneous change to an alternative strategy, medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) encoded information that was irrelevant for the current strategy but necessary for the later strategy. Importantly, this neural effect was related to future behavioral changes: information encoding in MPFC was changed only in participants who eventually switched their strategy and started before the actual strategy change. This allowed us to predict spontaneous strategy shifts ahead of time. These findings suggest that MPFC might internally simulate alternative strategies and shed new light on the organization of PFC.

Abstract

Many daily behaviors require us to actively focus on the current task and ignore all other distractions. Yet, ignoring everything else might hinder the ability to discover new ways to achieve the same goal. Here, we studied the neural mechanisms that support the spontaneous change to better strategies while an established strategy is executed. Multivariate neuroimaging analyses showed that before the spontaneous change to an alternative strategy, medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) encoded information that was irrelevant for the current strategy but necessary for the later strategy. Importantly, this neural effect was related to future behavioral changes: information encoding in MPFC was changed only in participants who eventually switched their strategy and started before the actual strategy change. This allowed us to predict spontaneous strategy shifts ahead of time. These findings suggest that MPFC might internally simulate alternative strategies and shed new light on the organization of PFC.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Engineering
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:19 Nov 2015 09:31
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:31
Publisher:Cell Press (Elsevier)
ISSN:0896-6273
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.015
PubMed ID:25819613

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